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Pope Attacks Laws Allowing Gay Marriage, Fast-Track Divorce

Pope Benedict at the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, Spain, 7 November, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended traditional families and the rights of the unborn on his visit to Spain. Speaking in Barcelona Sunday, he directly attacked laws that allow gay marriage, fast-track divorce and easier abortions in Spain.

The pope said families are built on the "indissoluble love of a man and a woman" that should be provided with financial and social benefits from governments.

He also criticized policies allowing for abortions, saying the life of children must be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception.

Pope Benedict issued the criticism Sunday as he sprinkled holy water on the altar to consecrate Barcelona's church of the Sagrada Familia, or sacred family.

An architectural marvel by architect Antonio Gaudi, the church, has been under construction for more than a century, and will not be finished before 2026.

Following the consecration, the main nave is now open for daily Mass for the first time.

A congregation of 65-hundred people attended the pope's mass inside the church, including hundreds of priests and bishops.

In his homily, Pope Benedict again called for the West to embrace God and shun secular trends. He said the dedication of the Sagrada Familia church was of great importance at a time in which man claims to be able to build his life without God, as if God had nothing to say to him.

Crowds lined the streets to greet the Pope as he drove to the cathedral. But there was also opposition: about 200 gays staged a 'kiss-in' to protest his visit and Benedict's policies on homosexuals and condom use. About half the protesters kissed and the other half jeered as the pope passed by Barcelona's cathedral in his white pope-mobile.

This was Pope Benedict's second visit to Spain since his election, and a third visit is planned next year for World Youth Day. Only an estimated 14.5 percent of Spaniards regularly attend mass, but 73 percent of Spaniards still define themselves as Catholic.